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The Grim Philosophy of Tekken

Updated: May 8

A young woman in the middle of a circle

(For more on my philosophy on Tekken, click here)


Tekken and I


Tekken... what can I say, is a series of fighting games with a very, very harsh plot, which I'm going to focus on in this article. Despite only playing 2 of the 7 games, I've researched the overall Tekken lore by watching videos.


Tekken, or "Iron Fist" in Japanese, is about a very long family feud of the Mishima Clan, who appears to solve all their problems through violence, war and attempted murders.


Looking back, I'm even surprised the Tekken games were allowed for children to play, as the first Tekken game I played, was when I was a child. There are no fingers pointed at anyone; it always was a series for all ages for some reason, starting in the 90's.


Violence, Tradition, and Proving Oneself


At school I was taught that violence is counterproductive, and that it doesn't solve anything. An amusing delusion, given military conflicts, given honour-based duels and so on. It should be a given, that violence does have some... functionality... when it comes to solving issues. Whether the violence is ethical or not, that is a different question, yes?


It isn't that I justify violence, and I myself haven't got in a physical fight since... 2011? Anyways, there shouldn't be a doubt that violence plays a part in solving problems, regardless of that violence is inevitable, ethical and so on.


Hence why, despite the viciousness in the matter, I can understand why Kazuya Mishima, the "hero" of the first game, dropped his father off a cliff in an attempt to kill him (he also smiled afterwards...). After all, it was his own father, Heihachi Mishima, who dropped him, himself, off a cliff, when he was a boy.


Heihachi's justification was this: If his son will be able to climb back... only then, he will be a worthy son in his eyes. (2023 note: Not only was Kazuya able to prove Heihachi wrong -- he also killed him, eventually. Looks like the son exeeced his father's expectations)


A very brutal philosophy, isn't it? To drop your own son, a boy at the time, off a cliff, just to see if he'll come back, as a way to prove his worth... That is an abysmal parenthood. In Judaism, all males have this ritual they "have" to pass, called the Bar Mitzvah, in order to transition, from boys to men, usually at the age of 12 or 13.


I've done it myself, but only to please my grandmother, who, at a year later, suddenly collapsed, became vegetative, and eventually passed away... In free translation to English, Bar Mitzvah means "Eligible/fit/prepared for the command".


When I saw her cry during this ritual, crying tears of joy, I felt that I did the right thing. Not because of religion and not because of "becoming" a "man" at nearly 13. I merely wanted her to be proud of me, and she was.


Mind you, there is nothing painful in this ritual, and even when we, the males, are "required", to be circumcised, it is done around a week after being born, and it is done without pain on the infant. So yes, I am both circumcised and a man by Jewish standards, despite me not believing in Judaism.


These rituals described to you, oriented towards boys, are far, far less flawed, then being thrown off a cliff by your own father, just to prove to him that you can climb back. Heihachi could've killed Kazuya by doing so, but, for some reason, he valued his son's strength, far more, than his own son's life.



Might Makes Right, Thus Empathy Dies


When Heihachi heard of his son's survival.. he declared a global tournament: The King of Iron Fist Tournament. He or she who would win the tournament, will be globally renowned, have a trophy, and great wealth.


Later on in the games, the prize would be the sole ownership of a global corporation, founded by Heihachi's father: The Mishima Zaibatsu. It is a corporation so powerful and large; it was later used to declare a world war by Kazuya's son, Jin Kazama (Surname of his mother).


Kazuya Mishima has a theme song, that was first presented in the second game, where HE became the villain, and Heihachi, the "hero" -- "Emotionless Passion". Quite the oxymoronic name, is it not? An emotion devoid of emotion?


Quite illogical, but when you get thrown off a cliff by your own father, of course that something, within you, will snap.


Why? Because your parents are supposed to be the closest people you trust, NOT the people who would try to kill you, right? And for what purpose, to see how strong you are? It was obvious, then, that Kazuya would gradually, lose any care for human emotion (empathy, sympathy and so on).


Kazuya and Heihachi never loved each other and were always arch enemies of each other. In the Mishima Clan, you see, there is no love, there is no compassion. Heihachi himself trapped his own father, Jinpachi, under the family shrine/temple. It seems that, the Mishimas employ VIOLENCE not just as a skill and not just as a martial art, yes?


They employ violence to estimate their worth, and others worth as well. If an opponent is too weak to stand against their might, then in their philosophy, they are as worthless, as the dirt on the ground.


Such brutal philosophy... it should never be considered practical in real life. After all, people are far more than their physical strength and mental fortitude, right? It's not necessarily an issue that is excluded to boys and men, as Tekken also has a lot of female characters, too.


It is to say, that in order to understand reality and other people, we must consider the emotional aspect of this world... The one that is more than the passion to win a fight or a conflict.


So... yes, if you happen to suffer from sociopathy, I at least, do not expect you to fully understand emotion. It's only a natural expectation, you know, because I myself am severely lacking on the social aspect of reality, due to the fact that I am an autist.


As far as it is told to us, the players, Kazuya managed to eventually kill his father in the game that was released the previous decade (2015?). I'm not sure if Heihachi will ever return canonically, also because his 2 chronological voice actors died eventually, so I guess they had to retire the character anyways.


Nonetheless, Kazuya's Emotionless Passion, the passion to win, the passion for greater strength and for power of any kind, might resume in the future games. To be frank, I do not expect him to develop as a character at all, as his own passion as a martial artist, seems to be far more important to him, than anything else in life... even more than his father, his own son, and the world.


I mean, his father tried to kill him as a child... why would not the mental illness... halt after the father's death? The Mishimas... are a powerful family of mentally ill people, who might not even admit that there's something wrong with them and might never even consider seeing a psychologist. The passion for power, triumphs all in the Philosophy of Tekken, of the King of Iron Fist.


The Tekken world might suffer a lot of deaths, as it already did in the lore, but in the eyes of the family that masses everything up, power is above all else. Muscle, stamina, technique... money, business, corporations, and world wars. THIS is how dangerous the thirst for any power could be. It all begins when sympathy for other beings, gets thrown off a cliff, and NEVER climbs back.




Mr. Nathan Lasher's Feedback


Violence might not be an effective way to solve things, but isn’t that exactly what humans have been using since the break of time? Violence is part of the human condition and is a learned thing.
If the first humans, past Adam and Eve, thought they could solve something with violence, clearly violence is a lesser part of human nature. If violence doesn’t solve anything, why have we been trying to do so for quite some time now, trying to fix one thing by destroying another?
Is it what Isaac Newton was getting at when he said for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction? One act of violence will be accompanied by a similar action in response. What is the difference between physics and philosophy? Aren’t they both about trying to solve the bigger questions?
Since when is violence ever ethical? To me it appears as though it is just humans being too lazy to find a better way to do something. Could wars have not been avoided had two leaders gotten together and debated the problem. Way easier to just use your military to fight it out.
The purpose of life is action. Nothing ever gets completed unless someone committed the action of doing it.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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